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Harmonization 2004 Handbook

GLOBAL STANDARD-SETTING IN INTERNATIONAL TRADE

This booklet is intended to assist citizens, policymakers, researchers, press and other interested parties in discovering where and how key regulatory policies are being shaped in the era of NAFTA and WTO. Both pacts require that domestic regulations governing products be "harmonized" (or made the same) on a global basis. These harmonized standards are then given a special new status under the pacts - as the world's presumptively trade-legal standards. Other conflicting standards held by national governments can be challenged as "barriers to trade" in the powerful dispute resolution bodies accompanying these global trade agreements.

Harmonization negotiations are taking place with regard to a myriad of issues of public interest - such as those governing food safety, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, chemicals, auto safety, aviation safety, consumer products, as well as animal and plant disease - in a variety of global institutions. Many of the results of these distant, often closed-door processes will affect the daily lives of citizens around the world, yet citizens are rarely consulted with regard to these negotiations.

As there are dozens of multinational harmonization institutions and groupings, and perhaps hundreds more international industry groupings all developing harmonized standards, we are not able to cover all such bodies in this document. Instead, we have focused on significant harmonization institutions of broad public interest. This booklet is intended as initial survey of these institutions and their procedures which will initiate awareness in the most prominent harmonization venues for U.S. consumers and other interested parties. Much more research is necessary to fully understand the extent to which international harmonization is impacting U.S. law and regulation and to identify the venues where harmonization negotiations are occurring and what can be done to ensure open, accountable standard-setting and balanced stakeholder input is both required and maintained in the era of globalization.

For more information please read Public Citizen's Harmonization 2004 Guidebook, Global Standard-Setting in International Trade.

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